EFCC challenges firm to provide evidence of sale of stolen crude oil

Following reports by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) regarding investigation by the United States Government into the alleged sale of stolen crude oil from Nigeria to a Ghana-based company, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has challenged claims by Lashann International Energy Corporation to provide evidence of the commission’s involvement in the said deals.

Lashann International Energy Corporation’s  owner, Quincy Sintim, was quoted by WSJ as stating that the company purchases the crude oil from Nigeria legally, stating that: “We have invoices that we paid to EFCC in Nigeria.”

But speaking with the media on Sunday,  EFCC Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, said: “Let them bring the invoice” claiming they purchase the crude oil from EFCC.

Uwujaren said the commission had already responded to the allegations and that the clarification had been made that at no time did the EFCC enter into sale of crude oil as it “is not an oil marketing company and could not have issued any invoice to any oil trader to lift confiscated crude oil from Nigeria.”

The alleged stolen crude oil was taken from Nigeria from where it was shipped to the coast of Ghana. The crude was then shipped to Europe by Saltpond Platform.

To compound the issue,  Ajay Bhatia, an Indian national who was convicted and sentenced in Nigeria in absentia to 15 years in jail for oil theft in May had been linked to Saltpond.

He is believed to have made several contacts and trips to the Saltpond facility in Ghana.

Bhatia sentencing in March was as a result of EFCC prosecution where the commission obtained judgment against the Indian in absentia.

The deal also opened a new vista to the protracted case of oil theft in the country.

According to observers, the handling of cases involving oil theft has been shrouded in secrecy given that the status of recovered stolen crude are hardly declared or made known to the public by government officials.

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